The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


[Edit: Originally published June 8, 2016]

Imagine a fantastical, enchanted, Cirque de Soleil/Carnival/Renaissance Fair. A Circus of Dreams if you will. It is nothing more than a game and everything but a game at the same time. It’s all fantastical and incredibly, and yet you find the ordinary things just as charming. It’s a very nice combination of practical and mystical.

There are three stories that overlap and intertwine throughout the book. There is the story of the circus as you perceive it, the one that begins the book with, “The circus arrives without warning.” The second is the story of Celia and Marco, and the third story is about a boy named Bailey. They run parallel to each other until the end of the book, at which point they all intersect. 

It’s fantastically written, and for as large a cast of characters you know everyone, and everyone is important. I will admit to being slightly worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep track of everyone at the very beginning, but my fears were all for naught.

What sets the plot in motion at the very beginning is two grown ass men wanting to have a “challenge” and they chose two children (Celia and Marco) to manipulate to be the challengers. These children have no choice in the matter. It’s a bit of an uncomfortable set up, but it also sets the stage for an “it’s time for the young people to take the reigns” arc, which is something I really enjoyed. There are three generations in this book. The first generation, Hector Bowen and Mr. A. H., who initiates the challenge. The two young people Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, who must survive the challenger. And then the children, Bailey and Poppet, the generation who will run things after the challenge. As someone who is part of a generation that is dealing with the repercussions of the actions of the generations before me, I enjoyed that a great deal.

Warning: Oh boy is there some child abuse stuff at the beginning. Celia’s father Hector is not a nice person. There is a scene where he cuts open her fingers and makes her heal them. All this is done under the name of training her, but it’s abusive and manipulative. The worst of it passes after the first few chapters. Narratively it’s hard to skip over because you do miss things if you avoid it. Hector also belittles his daughter throughout the book. 

Another Warning: Suicide. There are two references to it, one at the very beginning with Celia’s mother and a second one with the death of another character that is a much larger event. It’s a little ambiguous whether it was an accident or an act of suicide however.

Overall, and despite the bury your gays moment, I liked the book. I thought the pacing was a little weird towards the end where all the storylines come together, but other than that it was a very smooth read. 

Interested parties can find it here.

Snaps (only one this time sorry):


Smoke by Dan Vyleta

[Edit: Originally published on April 9, 2016]

Set in a dystopianesque England where people who sin Smoke. As in Smoke pours from their body whether they want it too or not, not have a cigarette. Of course the aristocracy don’t Smoke, because that would imply that they weren’t worthy of their titles. So the Smoke, is something that is seen as disproportionately of the lower class. This led to some great moments in the book as our three high born protagonists, navigate their way through life among the masses. 

Smoke is a fantastic story where three young people, Thomas, Charlie, and Livia, have to figure out just what is really going on when it comes to the Smoke, the aristocracy’s seeming Smokelessness, and just what are these illegal experiments that Livia’s mother has been doing for? On the run and not knowing who they can trust, they must make their own decisions about what is right, and they don’t always know the answer to that. 

Admittedly the book was a little daunting to start reading because of it’s size. However, as I read, I found that I moved through it very quickly, and I absolutely did not want to put it down. There isn’t a boring moment. Never once did I find that the narrative wavered. I was engaged the entire way through from beginning to end. 

The ending of the book was probably my favorite part, everything about the rest of the book was excellent and it lead up to the ending beautiful, but the ending was so well crafted. In the end it doesn’t come down to a right or wrong choice. It’s just a choice. Thomas, Charlie, and Livia make a choice. They’ve opened pandora’s box, as Thomas says, and they’ll have to deal with whatever it brings. We don’t get to see that, however. They did everything they could to the best of their ability, and now all they can do is continue moving forward. 

I have to say though for all my worry about the love triangle, the end result made me so happy. Livia is clearly torn with feelings for both Charlie and Thomas, but instead of a duel (as remarked about in the book) or Livia choosing one of them. It ends in Livia going, “Well why can’t I have you both?” And the three of them walking off into the sunset holding hands. This is the first book I’ve read that had polyamory as the answer to a love triangle. It wasn’t just thrown in either, it was developed throughout. From early on Livia is concerned about liking both Thomas and Charles and not wanting to have to pick one. There’s a moment, when Thomas tells both Charlie and Livia than he loves them. Seeing that all come together in the end was just fantastic. 

A few cautionary warnings: use of g*psy, and experimentation on children, ie, child abuse, and also a dog dies.

The book comes out in May and you can preorder it here.

Snapchats of my reading: